Posted by James Allen on December 24, 1998 at 09:19:36:
In Reply to: Re: mid 18th cent. yomud border posted by Michael Wendorf on December 24, 1998 at 06:27:15:
: : :
: : : : : Jerry I can see you have tried to be objective and i have no idea why the task seems so hard to you and the others. Perhaps it is because you as a group don't collect Turkomen weaving primarily and have little motivation to see it decoded. I have included one last 18th century border repeat which clearly shows the power of my technique. In this border two elephants heads are interdigitated. The upright elephant head has a curled trunk and it is trumpeting for this curling of the trunk often accompanies this loud signal. The reciprocal elephants head has a straight trunk. The scale and clarity are similar to the 18th century yomud border everybody has been so careful not to mention. These two borders are so obviously white dominant and just exactly what I say they are it should send you to the opthalmologist for an examination if you can't see it. Have fun trying. JIM ALLEN
: : : Jim:
: : : Hallelujah!!! I DO see an elephant head here in the border.
: : : Pardon my ignorance, but, what is an elephant doing in the desert?
: : : Pat Weiler.
: : I have joined this discussion rather late and have only perused it briefly, but I sense people are having a difficult time seeing the reciprocal space/design which Jim describes and even having a hard time believing it even exists. I would think you have all heard the story of when one of these early European travelers, while passing thru Central Asia, showed a black and white photograph to a Turkic steppe dweller. The man could not discern the primary image (black/grey) on the paper, but instead focused on the space between the primary images. He was unable to see what had been the object of the photograph. Does this mean there was nothing in the photo? Of course not. It meant the man was not used to looking at what we are very well accustomed to viewing. Could not the same be true of the white imagery alluded to by Jim. Suggesting he is imagining special meaning and imagery as well as disbelieving the entire premise is a bit radical. Open your eyes and truly SEE, without preconceived notions and prejudices. Then you might see what he is talking about. Certainly there is not problem seeing the boat images, right? I, too will struggle with the leopard image but at times get a glimpse of what is being discussed and then it slips away again.
: Dear Tom:
: The traveller you are refering to is, I believe, O'Donovan. I think this point has been made previously, maybe by Jim. But what does it mean? I do not recall O'Donovan talking about Turkoman images or the associations of images with white space.
: I think that there are really two distinct problems. The first is do you read white first and are there possibly some images in the white that our eyes are not accustomed to seeing. Maybe and probably. Certainly the use of what we see as negative space is well known and not particularly radical.
: The second problem is the images and associations made by Jim. Here Jim posits his interpretations, which he readily acknowledges are predecated on unsupported sweeping assertions, as 100% certain while claiming that anyone one who does not see what he sees and interprets what he sees the way he does is not serious or worse. This serves, at best, to stifle the conversation and, in my experience, is a method of argument most often used by persons who do not want to truly engage in dialog.
: John Howe and others have advanced the possibility that we may all, including Jim, have preconceived notions and biases. Indeed, Jim's own challenges to othersto see and be serious are at least equally valid turned around and pointed back at him.
: I have tried to show that the historical, ethnographical underpinnings of Jim's theories, to the extent Jim can or will articulate them, are based on, in my view, the extration of a few superficial points turned, misunderstood or mischaracterized and then spat out as fact to support his conclusory assertions. I believe these theories rest more on fancy than fact. More on mushrooms than respect for the information, admittedly scant, and work of his peers that is out there.
: Jim calls this quibbling and you implore us to open our eyes and really see. I am all for really seeing these weavings, I do not think Jim really sees them any more than I do and I think the way he offers his interpretations by stepping on or ignoring what is out there is a step backward, not forward.
: Best regards, Michael
: I don't much like what you say but i am so impressed with how you say it. I really do not want to engage this salon and discussion at a level of sophistication i find very difficult to achieve. I know what i have seen in Turkoman designs is there because I have been able to predict and define the hitherto undefinable. Many people including Tom Cole have warned me against so august an exercise and have predicted failure. I felt i had sufficient material so everyone would be able to easily see something was going on. My scholarship is like most scholarship on these matters, suspect. I have told most of you at one time or another certainty isn't an option. The best anyone can do is point at the moon you can't bring it down for inspection. Once the visual habits are formed for looking at OLD desert adapted turkoman iconography certain realities become evident and these realities are what have helped me assemble one of the more impressive small collections around. I've sold a lot of it and nolonger consider myself a player and my intent with this salon was to pique an interest and point at what i know of as the truth. I was freaked at the resistence and still don't understand it or the trial like atmosphere. But so be it, I bet many of you never see these things the same way again. Jim Allen
Post a Followup